We all want to raise children who grow into adults that are compassionate and understand the needs of others.
For years, I have wanted to expose the kids to the reality that is found in food banks, orphanages and homeless shelters. But, let’s be real, living in the suburbs of Scottsdale, the kids are just not aware that people live without their basic needs met. They certainly don’t have an understanding that CHILDREN (just like them) live without food, schooling and even parents to take care of them.
I thought that they were NOT YET old enough to truly help and understand that they can make a difference. But I was wrong. Children as young as five can volunteer at great places around the Valley — you just have to know where to look. Here are three ways you could volunteer with your family:
1) Families Give Back — This is a great organization that is perfect for the whole family. They have a calendar of volunteer activities available. They connect families with young children to charity organizations that need their help.
2) Feed My Starving Children — This organization provides meals to starving children all over the world. You package each meal as a team. My children had an amazing time helping this organization and left feeling great about helping others.
3) Valley of the Sun United Way — The kids packed bags of food for local children who otherwise would go hungry. The staff at the United Way went out of their way to thank each volunteer who was there to help. My children felt like they were really making a difference in the lives of other children in need.
If you can’t sign up for any volunteer activities as a family, there are other ways you can teach your children how to help. They can save a percentage of their money to help an organization that they feel strongly about. My kids have helped out in a lemonade stands to raise money for Arizona Animal Welfare League. One of my daughters made bracelets and gave all of the proceeds to St. Mary’s Food Bank. Even having the children sort through their clothes and toys to give to a donation service can teach your children compassion for others.
By volunteering as a family, I hope to teach them to appreciate what they have and to think of others before themselves. On top of helping others in need they also feel so proud of themselves after they volunteer. It is the one family activity that they remember and talk about for months afterwards.